Why (Most) Sunscreen is Harmful to Your Health

Why (Most) Sunscreen is Harmful to Your Health

Warmer days are finally upon us. But as much as I love being out in the sun as anyone else, I’m not a big fan of slathering myself with conventional sunscreen.


Simple. Because it’s toxic.

Reports from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Consumer Reports both warn against the use of several types of the conventional sunscreens that are widely available.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

Why is Sunscreen Harmful to Your Health?

I know what you might be thinking.

We’re supposed to wear sunscreen, right? It protects us from getting a sunburn and damaging UV rays that can lead to premature aging, sunspots, and cancer.

Here’s the thing, though. Despite the significant rise in the use of sunscreen over the past few decades, melanoma skin cancer rates are still continuing to rise. Think that your sunscreen is really protecting you from cancer? You might want to think again.

According to the EWG, most sunscreens available commercially don’t provide sufficient protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. While they do block out some UVB rays, they don’t provide any protection from UVA rays. They’re also laden with many chemicals that aren’t necessarily safe.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Associationfound that these chemicals are absorbed into the skin at alarming levels. Three out of four chemicals tested were still present in the bloodstream seven days after sunscreen had been applied.

Like many health and beauty products, all sunscreens are not created equal. And in many cases, the sunscreen you’re using could be doing more harm than good.

According the FDA, there are only two sunscreen ingredients that are actually safe and effective. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients are used in both mineral and chemical sunscreens.

Unlike mineral sunscreen, however, most conventional sunscreens contain other ingredients that don’t come with enough data to determine if they’re safe or not.

Aside from zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, conventional sunscreens contain chemical filters that uses a different means to keep skin protected while in the sun. One or more of the following are traditionally added to conventional sunscreen: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

The FDA says that “nearly all of these sunscreen active ingredients have limited or no data characterizing their absorption.”

EWG research shows that these common chemical sunscreen ingredients have some significant health effects. Check it out.

Common Chemical Sunscreen Ingredients & Their Health Dangers

  • Oxybenzone: Associated with concern for absorption through the skin and a possible endocrine disruptor. Oxybenzone is detected in nearly everyone in the US and is found widely in mother’s milk. It has shown to weaken estrogen and is associated with altered birthweights in human studies. Oxybenzone is also associated with relatively high rates of skin allergies.
  • Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate): Contains hormone-like activity and has shown to alter reproductive system, thyroid, and behavior in animal studies. Like oxybenzone it is found to show up in mother’s milk. Octinoxate is also associated with moderate rates of skin allergies.
  • Homosalate: Known to disrupt estrogen, androgen, and progesterone. This is another chemical found in mother’s milk. There is also concern of the toxic breakdown of homosalate.
  • Avobenzone: While there isn’t any known hormone disruption caused by avobenzone, its breakdown is associated with relatively high rates of skin allergies. While it’s considered the best chemical filter for UVA protection, it’s unstable in sunshine and must be mixed with stabilizers. It is most commonly mixed with octinoxate.

Conventional Sunscreen and Hormone Disruption

One of the biggest concerns with chemical sunscreen is hormone disruption. Many of the common chemical sunscreen fillers are known endocrine disruptors and could interfere with thyroid and other hormonal processes.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals known to interfere with endocrine systems. Any system in the body that is controlled by hormones can be affected by endocrine disruptors. They are known to cause developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune responses in both humans and animals.

In animal studies, exposure to oxybenzone and octinoxate is associated with lower sperm counts and sperm abnormalities. Octinoxate is also associated with delayed puberty, while octinoxate is linked to altered estrous cycling. Increased levels of oxybenzone (which is detected in 96% of Americans) is linked to lower testosterone levels in adolescent boys.

Hawaii has banned sunscreen that contains oxybenzone and octinoxate. Oxybenzone damages coral larvae DNA, which leads to deformation and damage of coral. It’s also linked to coral bleaching and coral death.

Dave Andrews, senior scientist at the EWG says, “We’ve been raising the concerns about the use of oxybenzone in sunscreens for probably at least 10 years. We think it raises enough concern that it should be avoided.”

Something else Andrews says?

“We do think there are alternative sunscreens available that will avoid this concerning ingredient.”

He’s right.

Brazen Bee sunscreen is one of them.

Brazen Bee Sunscreen

Like I said, I’m all for enjoying the feel good energy the sun is famous for.

Conventional sunscreen, not so much.

This is why I developed a couple products that offer natural protection from the sun without the use of any harmful chemicals.

The Everything Stick just might be one of my favorite products simply for the fact that, like its name suggests, it can be used for pretty much anything. Aside from being an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial, its an effective sunscreen…and deodorant and diaper rash ointment.

Told you it could do everything.

Among other natural ingredients beneficial to the skin, the Everything Stick contains zinc oxide and coconut oil (another known natural sun protectant).

Brazen Bee’s Sunlicker Sunscreen is a dry sunscreen/mineral-based foundation. Not only does it protect that beautiful face of yours from the sun’s harmful rays (the first ingredient is zinc oxide) but I actually formulated it to help with acne while you’re wearing it.

This sunscreen, makeup, acne-clearing formula is one of my favs. Rather than absorb directly into the skin, Sunlicker stays on the skin like a thin, breathable layer of wax that protects your precious facial skin longer than any chemical or lotion-type sunscreen even comes close to.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to keep your skin protected from the sun. Those sunscreens you thought were doing just that, however, typically contain ingredients that have shown to have some serious health repercussions.

When it comes to showing a little more skin in these warm summer months, you might want to consider ditching that chemically-laden conventional sunscreen with a mineral sunscreen alternative. There’s truly no better time than now to choose a safer sunscreen for you and your family.